Federal Jury Convicts Tahlequah Resident Of Multiple Counts Of Aggravated Sexual Abuse And Exploitation Of Her Children In Indian Country
MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced today that McAlester residents, Billy James Menees, age 29, and Ashley Dawn Marie Schardein, age 27, were both found guilty by a federal jury of one count of Child Abuse in Indian Country and one count of Child Neglect in Indian Country.
The jury trial began with testimony on Tuesday, February 14, 2023 and concluded on Thursday, February 23, 2023 with the guilty verdicts.
During the trial, the United States presented evidence that beginning in January of 2019 Billy Menees and his live- in girlfriend, Ashley Schardein, began the systematic abuse and neglect of the then 9-year-old child victim in their care. The defendants began by restricting the victim’s access to food and excessively punishing the victim by means of physical force, including striking the victim with a paddle, belt, and bar of soap in a sock. Defendants also forced the victim to take cold showers and denied the victim access to a bathroom. Physical abuse and neglect continued to escalate when they isolated the victim by withdrawing the victim from public school in October of 2019. The victim was repeatedly beaten, hog-tied with a rope, and left to sleep on a barren concrete floor. A welfare check on May 9, 2020 led to the discovery of the victim with a shaven head and bruises covering the entirety of the victim’s emaciated body.
The guilty verdicts were the result of an investigation by the McAlester Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office for District 18, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma prosecuted the case because the victim in this case is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe and the crimes occurred in Pittsburg County, within the boundaries of the Choctaw Nation Reservation, and within the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
The Honorable Timothy D. DeGiusti, U.S. Chief District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, in Oklahoma City, presided over the trial and ordered the completion of the presentence reports. The sentencings will be scheduled following completion of the reports and the Defendants will remain in custody of the United States Marshal until then.
Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Paladino and Caila M. Cleary represented the United States.